Juba Peace Talks Reflection Workshop

By Wade Snowdon

GULU, NORTHERN UGANDA-The Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI), Ker Kal Kwaro Acholi and Gulu District NGO Forum organized a reflection workshop on the Juba Peace Talks (JPT) from 10th to 12th September 2008 at Ker Kal Kwaro Acholi/ Paramount Chief’s Residence in Gulu town.

The workshop attracted over 50 participants and sought:

  1. To widen the level of understanding of the Juba Peace Talk documents among the religious, cultural, and political leaders.
  2. To identify the roles religious, cultural and political leaders can play in implementing the different items of the agreements.
  3. To chart the way forward for religious, cultural, and political leaders engagements with the communities for coherent knowledge of the agreement.

The JPT which began in July 2007 have realized tremendous achievements, most notably establishing relative calm throughout the region. Despite the long duration taken to conduct the talks, very few religious, cultural, local government, and civil society organization leaders are aware of what the different agenda items which have been agreed upon entail.

Despite not realizing the parties’ signatures to the Final Peace Agreement, the focus by many stakeholders has been on how to implement the initialed agenda items. Therefore a great need for people to understand the documents is paramount so that different stakeholders can adequately identify the roles they can play.

Chief guest, Justice James Ogola shared with participants about the state of the Special High Court which was commissioned to be set up as detailed in “Agenda Item 3: Accountability and Reconciliation” of the JPT. Regarding complementarity of transitional justice mechanisms, he said, “The Judiciary is ready if traditional mechanisms are put into place. A team will be sent to Ker Kal Kwaro Acholi for consultations to finalize the document that will officially employ such a method into the justice system.”

Community participation during the talks has also not existed and there have been limited updates by the various delegates and participants. To fill this gap, a team consisting of participants from the workshop will visit various communities with the purpose of sensitizing the community on the topic.